More than ever, long-term incarcerated older adults are being released into their communities. Many find themselves ill prepared to function in a society that has changed significantly during their incarceration. As a result, this growing population continues to gain attention as many poorly reintegrate due to their complex physical health, mental health, and social needs. Recent data suggest that this group of formerly incarcerated older adults (FIOA) is uniquely motived to make their reintegration successful. However, little is documented to further inform and validate best practices to help them succeed in this. The purpose of this dissertation research study was to explore prevalent psychosocial needs of OAs’ post-release. We also examined post-release mental health functioning among older, formerly incarcerated adults as poor mental health has been found to be associated with recidivism. Analysis were used to examine the influence of sociodemographic variables, quality of life, and successful integration on three measures of mental health, the Mental Health Continuum-Short Form, the Kessler-10 Depression and Anxiety measure and PCL-C Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder assessment. We also investigated prison and post-release factors that predict successful integration for older adults, in relation to prison roles (work or volunteer), prison social support (prison pseudo families), and having contact with their family during incarceration. Furthermore, we attempted to investigate how prison experiences impact OA’s mental health post-release. Specifically, this study attempted to explore if prison pseudo families, prison work roles and experiences served as non-traditional means to achieve Ego Integrity as theorized by Erickson and measured by the MEPSI psychosocial inventory scale. Finally, we investigated the differences in needs post-release of older adult releasees compared to their younger peer counterparts. Results conveyed that being employed, having an income and quality of life predicted good mental health (MHC). When assessing post-traumatic stress (PCL), we found that all the above in addition to successful integration predicted lower PTSD scores. Furthermore, all of the above plus having a prison role predicted lower levels of depression and anxiety (K10). We also found that having contact with family, prison pseudo families and less needs post-incarceration predicted successful integration. We concluded that the MEPSI was not a suitable assessment tool for older adults who have aged in prison. We also found that needs post-incarceration were high regardless of age and a more sensitive assessment of needs is needed for this vulnerable population.

LLU Discipline

Social Policy and Social Research


Social Policy and Research


School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Susanne B. Montgomery

Second Advisor

Qais Alemi

Third Advisor

Brian Distelberg

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Aged; Prisons; Recidivism; Quality of Life; Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic; Vulnerable Populations; Depression; Prisoners; Anxiety



Page Count

xvii, 140 p.

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives